Journal news

In brief

Dog control laws in Scotland

The Scottish government has begun a review of dog control laws.

A public consultation, launched last week, is seeking views on practical measures to improve the operational effectiveness of the Control of Dogs (Scotland) Act 2010 to aid enforcement agencies.

Next year, there will be a further review of wider dog control legislation. This will look at how the law surrounding dangerous dogs and other associated dog control laws operate.

The Scottish Government’s public audit committee published a report in July that concluded that current laws were not fit for purpose and an urgent comprehensive review of all dog control legislation was required.

It made numerous recommendations, such as establishing a ‘Scottish Dog Control Database’, and requiring GPs, hospitals and local authorities to record and collect data on reported dog bite incidents.

Jenny Marra, convenor of the public audit committee, said this week in...

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Persian cats and their brachycephalic health issues

Georgina Mills discusses new research that looks at health trends in Persian cats in the UK and shows that their flat faces are causing them harm

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Disease surveillance in England and Wales, September 2019

APHA disease Surveillance report headlines

  • Botulism being diagnosed more regularly in cattle

  • Duodenal sigmoid flexure volvulus in a ewe

  • Concurrent infection of pigs with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus and Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae

  • Histomonosis in chickens

  • Highlights from the scanning surveillance networkCattleBotulism

    Having been a rare diagnosis in the past, more recently outbreaks of botulism have been regularly diagnosed in cattle herds, and occasionally in sheep flocks.1 The great majority of these have been due to animals contacting broiler manure, which has a recognised potential for causing botulism.

    Having been a rare diagnosis in the past, more recently outbreaks of botulism have been regularly diagnosed in cattle herds

    Botulism is diagnosed on the basis of typical clinical signs of progressive weakness and a lack of alternative disease on postmortem examination, as there are no pathognomonic gross pathological findings. In some...

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    Cattle surveillance in the autumn months

    Arthur Otter, deputy lead of the APHA Cattle Expert Group, considers some of the most common diagnoses reached in cattle in autumn.

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    Can oral group medication be improved to reduce antimicrobial use?

    Of the antimicrobials sold to treat food-producing animals in Europe in 2016, 90.1 per cent were designated for group treatment.1 Group treatment, administered through drinking water or feed, enables farmers to easily treat a large number of animals as soon as clinical signs of disease are observed in the group. This practice – referred to as metaphylaxis or control treatment – has the advantage of quickly treating many animals at the same time in order to slow the spread of disease.

    It has been shown that metaphylactic treatments are associated with higher cure rates than curative treatments administered when animals are already exhibiting clinical signs of disease.2,3 However, the European guidelines for the prudent use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine4 highlight treatment via feed and drinking water as a major concern in the development of antimicrobial resistance.

    To help limit the...

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    Oral group medication in pig production: characterising medicated feed and drinking water systems

    Despite common use of oral group medication in pig rearing, the homogeneity, stability and carry-over of frequently used medicinal products in feed and drinking water are largely unknown. Therefore, a field study was performed on 52 Belgian pig farms, characterising preparation and administration of medicinal products via these systems, and farmers’ user experiences with medicated feed and medicated drinking water. The study showed that medicated drinking water is more commonly used than medicated feed, since 90.4 per cent of the farms sometimes use medicated drinking water and 69.2 per cent of the farms sometimes use medicated feed. The drinking water quality is evaluated at least once a year on only 30.7 per cent of the farms. Separate pipelines for medicated and non-medicated circuits were not present in any of the farms using medicated feed and in 27.7 per cent of the farms using medicated drinking water. With drinking water medication, 63.5 per cent of the farmers reported encountering practical problems, often related to solubility issues and precipitation of the active compounds. In contrast, medicated feed is bought ready-to-use from the feed manufacturer in 68.2 per cent of the cases, thus reducing the number of practical problems experienced by the farmer. This study shows room for improvement of oral group treatment, developing appropriate pharmaceutical formulations for drinking water medication, quality control of drinking water, using separate pipeline circuits, and cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

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    Randomised trial of perioperative tramadol for canine sterilisation pain management

    Surgical sterilisation to manage free-roaming dog populations is widely used in many countries. However, few studies have examined optimal postoperative pain management regimens at low-resource, high-throughput veterinary clinics. The aim of this study was to examine the efficacy of two intravenous analgesic regimens, preoperative administration of meloxicam and tramadol, or meloxicam alone, in free-roaming dogs undergoing sterilisation. A total of 125 dogs were included, with 64 dogs in the meloxicam-tramadol arm and 61 dogs in the meloxicam-only arm in a non-inferiority study design. Pain levels in sterilisation surgery patients were assessed at four time points after surgery using the Colorado State University Canine Acute Pain Scale, a Visual Analogue Scale and a modified version of the Glasgow Composite Measure Pain Scale – Short Form. Non-inferiority was supported for each of the main scoring outcomes using non-inferiority margins of 0.5, 5 and 0.8, respectively. One dog from the meloxicam-tramadol group and four dogs in the meloxicam-only arm required rescue analgesia, with no difference between groups (P=0.21).The study demonstrated that meloxicam was effective in controlling postoperative pain in a high proportion of dogs. The addition of tramadol alongside meloxicam treatment was not found to be of clinical benefit.

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    Gendered practices in veterinary organisations

    As a result of scandals concerning sexual harassment in Hollywood and in the media, as well as questions regarding the size of the gender pay gap, considerable attention has recently been paid to questions of gender diversity and discrimination in organisations. Gender issues would appear particularly salient within the veterinary profession, not least because women are beginning to outnumber men as practitioners. While this research on veterinary surgeons was not initially focused on gender, as the study progressed gender became an issue of such importance that it could not be ignored. Although ‘feminized in numerical terms’, the veterinary profession and ‘its professional structure and culture remains gendered masculine’. Translated into practice, this means that although 76 per cent of vet school graduates are currently female, disproportionately few have risen or are rising through the hierarchy. On the surface it is easy to rationalise this away partly by simply stating how many female vets appear to sacrifice career for family, but the authors’ aim is to go beyond merely repeating and reinforcing the common sense view of female reproduction and parenting as the sole explanation for gender inequality within this and other professions.

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    Selected highlights from other journals

    How prevalent are bacterial infections in guinea pigs?

    S. Roberts-Steel, J. A. Oxley, A. Carroll and others

    Animals (2019) 9

    doi: 10.3390/ani9090649

    • What did the research find?

    In total, 39.3 per cent of owners reported that their pet guinea pig(s) had been clinically diagnosed with a bacterial infection. Upper respiratory tract infections were the most commonly reported (47 per cent), followed by urinary tract (15.5 per cent) and gastrointestinal (11.7 per cent) infections. Owners generally had good knowledge of husbandry practices, and there was no significant effect of owner knowledge on the occurrence of bacterial infection.

    • How was it conducted?

    An online questionnaire, consisting of 30 questions, was completed by 524 guinea pig owners between October 2016 and January 2017. Participants were asked to provide information on the clinical history of their guinea pig(s), particularly regarding any diagnoses of bacterial infection. In addition, participants were asked to...

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    Incentivising public health work

    The Veterinary Public Health Association (VPHA) would like to respond to the comments made by Jonathan Lee and Stephen May in a recent news article (VR, 21 September 2019, vol 185, p 318) about incentivising vets to enter public health work.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) defines veterinary public health (VPH) as ‘the sum of all contributions to the physical, mental and social wellbeing of humans through an understanding and application of veterinary science’. This definition encompasses all activities carried out by veterinarians with all animal species, as well as human interactions, in the context of the environment they live in and share. Therefore, every veterinarian, one way or another, contributes to VPH.

    Undeniably, the current Brexit situation raises more questions than answers among the veterinary profession and its role in society at the national and international level.

    The VPHA has raised concerns that, with no deal, or with...

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    Caution over RCVS review

    Josh Loeb is to be congratulated on an excellent resume of why we are where we are with regard to telemedicine and remote prescribing (VR, 14 September 2019, vol 185, pp 286-287).

    It remains to be seen if the review of ‘under my care’ and 24-hour care will be the profession’s own moment of self-inflicted and long-lasting harm.

    The RCVS has been poor in its approach to the problem with a combination of secrecy, inappropriate evidence, disregard of the profession’s opinion and no wider consultation. The result of which is, in my opinion, a total lack of trust that the review will be carried out in a manner befitting a first-class regulator.

    Two crucial elements are missing from the announcement of the review. First, that any conclusion should not alter the essential role of the college, namely protecting animal welfare by maintaining public confidence in the profession. Second, there...

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    Melissa Donald, chair of the RCVS standards committee, responds

    While Iain Richards is, of course, entitled to his opinion, we dispute that the RCVS has dealt with this issue poorly or in bad faith as he intimates. In fact, the whole purpose of us carrying out this review is that we make sure we have the core principles of the relationship between the veterinary surgeon and the animal under (his or her) care right.

    Under the plans we published earlier this month, we indicated that we will be making a great deal of effort to gather the views of the profession on this critical issue and so we would ask for some forbearance from Richards that we have every intention of making this review open, honest and thorough. We hope that he, and many others, will participate in the review and that, in doing so, we can earn his trust that we are carrying it out in a...

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    Herriot is not responsible for professions woes

    As the son and authorised biographer of Alf Wight (aka James Herriot), and one who worked alongside him in general practice for over 25 years, I feel well qualified to respond to the recent criticisms of his legacy levelled by members of his profession.

    In an article from The Telegraph,1 James Herriot is held responsible for the public’s expectation that vets should work free of charge. This, it is alleged, causes vets to be ‘underpaid and exhausted’.

    In this article, James Herriot is accused of not charging his customers. How can a man, like my father, who started out on his career with hardly a penny to his name, survive by not charging? To a tiny portion of his clientele, ones he knew were suffering financial hardship, he did provide free treatment, but he ran a successful practice and charged realistic fees; indeed our practice was regarded...

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    Herriot is not responsible for professions woes

    It is a little unfair for an equine specialist to blame the profession’s current challenges on a mixed practitioner who wrote some excellent books (VR, 21 September 2019, vol 185, p 319).

    In the books, James Herriot is certainly not portrayed as a man earning large quantities of money: I recollect no description of pleasant overseas holidays or other luxuries. Quite the opposite. The practice finances were also tight then and there are plenty of references to that. The books show that money was counted carefully. The exchange of cakes and so on was more than simply goodwill or an exchange for money, it was a different world then. Food was short in the 1930s and even more so in the 1940s with rationing.

    Rural mixed practice in remote areas is still alive and kicking in the UK: certainly in the north of Scotland and the Highlands and Islands....

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    Editors response: Herriot is not responsible for professions woes

    Thank you for your letter. I welcome your contribution to this debate and I apologise for any offence caused to you by the recent coverage about James Herriot. Let me explain the justification for running the story.

    Vet Record exists as a journal of record for all issues and developments in and around the profession, including cultural matters. The intention of the article was to record this cultural rejection of the past by some members of the profession.

    It is certainly true that your father and the fictional character he created in James Herriot are much loved by the general public. Many vets, too, respect his contribution in helping to shed a light on the world of veterinary medicine.

    However, it is also true – as you recognise yourself – that veterinary practice has changed significantly since the 1930s, 40s and 50s when the James Herriot books were set....

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    Genetic study of border terriers

    Canine epileptoid cramping syndrome (CECS) is a paroxysmal movement disorder of border terriers that is analogous to paroxysmal non-kinesigenic dyskinesias in people.1

    CECS is characterised by episodic, recurring combinations of dystonia, chorea, ballism, tremor and athetosis, often at rest with no loss of consciousness. Episodes typically begin between six weeks and seven years of age. Single episodes can last between a few minutes and a few hours, with some owners reporting an association with stress or excitement, while others saw a connection with the animal waking from sleep. It’s also thought that dogs may have gastrointestinal signs associated with episodes such as vomiting, diarrhoea, or borborygmi.

    A recent study has linked CECS to gluten sensitivity. Gluten-sensitive CECS has been termed paroxysmal gluten-sensitive dyskinesia (PGSD).2 Blood tests measuring serum anti-canine gliadin-IgG (AGA IgG) and anti-canine transglutaminase-2-IgA (TG2 IgA) concentrations are useful in diagnosis. A gluten-free diet...

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    I Would like to clarify that the double-page spread in the middle of last week’s Vet Record (28 September 2019, vol 185) is an advert.

    Once the paper band, branded with Bayer and Advocate, is removed it is not clear that this is advertising. It should have followed our advertising guidelines and been marked as advertorial or have the company logo on the printed pages.

    Apologies if this has caused confusion.

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    Death notices

    Brocklesby On 20 September 2019, David William Brocklesby, CMG, DrVetMed, FRC(Path), FRCVS, of Paxton, Scottish Borders. Professor Brocklesby qualified from London in 1954.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.l5800

    Brown On 11 June 2019, Andrew John Brown, MA, VetMB, DipECVECC, DipACVECC, MRCVS, of Roslin, Midlothian. Dr Brown qualified from Cambridge in 2002.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.l5801

    Smith On 4 June 2019, Keith Charles Smith, BVSc, DSHP, MSc, PhD, FRCVS, of Tiverton, Devon. Dr Smith qualified from Bristol in 1954.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.l5802

    Wilson On the 22 September 2019, Hamish Christopher Wilson, BVSc, MRCVS, of Stoke Prior, Worcestershire. Mr Wilson qualified from Bristol in 1964.

    doi: 10.1136/vr.l5803

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    Diagnostic test reader

    Veterinary Record latest issue - 27 September 2019

    Biogal Galed Labs has launched CombCam, an automated reading device for its vaccination titre test and its antibody test kit, which it says will greatly assist veterinary practitioners.

    CombCam will make the interpretation of the company’s VacciCheck and ImmunoComb veterinary diagnostic test kits easier, less cumbersome, faster, digitised and more accurate, says Amos Gershony, Biogal’s chief executive.

    The hand-sized device displays results after three seconds, and test results can be copied to a PC or a laptop for electronic documentation.

    The CombCam is available for all of Biogal’s canine and feline VacciCheck and ImmunoComb kits.

    Biogal Galed Lab, Kibbutz Galed, 1924000 Israel.

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    Listening out for stress in chicks

    Veterinary Record latest issue - 27 September 2019

    Identifying the sounds made by chicks when they are suffering different types of stress has allowed researchers to develop an acoustic sensor that can monitor their wellbeing. The sensor also monitors flock mobility and environmental conditions.

    The acoustic sensor – known as the ALIS Chirpy Sensor – has been developed in conjunction with researchers at Newcastle University and the University of Roehampton in London and is one of a suite of new biosensors introduced by Greengage, a Scotland-based agritech business.

    A major benefit of the sensor is its ease of installation, as the devices clip onto existing cabling for Greengage lighting systems, the company says.

    Greengage Enlightened Farming, Roslin Innovation Centre Charnock Bradley Building, The University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush Campus Midlothian EH25 9RG.

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